When Covid restrictions cut capacity at CBD restaurant Donna Chang, operator The Ghanem Group started leveraging its downstairs cocktail bar The Boom Boom Room as a second dining space. It proved popular. People loved dining downstairs so much, they started requesting to sit in The Boom Boom Room specifically. So last week, The Ghanem Group transformed the bar into a Japanese izakaya (a concept the group had been planning for a while).
The izakaya concept suits the former bank basement perfectly. Descend a flight of stairs and you’re transported into a dimly lit, moody underground space, reminiscent of the glitzier izakaya dens you might find in Japan. The fit-out is mostly the same – there’s a lot of dark blue with gold trim – but the lounges have been removed and replaced by plush red velvet chairs and dark dining tables. The existing white-tiled arches above the bar and the private dining rooms (housed in the old bank vaults) remain.
A new kitchen has been built beside the bar, centered around an impressive three-tier Mibrasa charcoal grill. The yakitori is a highlight, but the raw dishes are worthy of attention too. Think Noosa scallop sashimi with kombu dressing, salmon roe gunkan (kind of like ngiri with nori wrapped around it) and kangaroo tartare. Larger dishes include a barramundi katsu bao burger; Fraser Island spanner crab with udon noodles and kombu butter; and a nine-plus score Mayura Station Wagyu sirloin.
The drinks list is just as much reason to visit. “It still complements Donna Chang by offering a wonderful place for pre- and after- dinner drinks,” says co-director Adonis Ghanem. “You can visit after work for a few beers or cocktails and have some small bites of yakitori.”
The two-sided drinks menu includes an extensive Japanese whisky selection (27 of the rarest bottles are on display in a “whisky vault”) and a whole side is dedicated to sake. The house pour is the Kunizakari Jousen (a good introduction to sake), but there are premium bottles too, as well as a sweeter yuzushu (a yuzu juice and sake blend).
Other than that, there’s nine Japanese-inspired cocktails, including the Apple Pineapple Pen (Haku vodka, pineapple, coconut, apple juice, lemon and dashi) and the Hana (sakura, or cherry blossom; Roku gin; peach; yuzu; sparkling rosé; and lemon), as well as a few beers and a small but well-curated wine list with a handful of options by the glass.
“Covid restrictions have changed many people's plans for a while,” says Ghanem. “And with no travelling overseas anytime soon ... we are pleased to offer a new experience to Brisbane and hope people can get out and enjoy themselves again.”
The Boom Boom Room Izakaya
49 Elizabeth Street, Brisbane City
Wed & Thu 4.30pm–late
Fri to Sun 12pm–late